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From Charlotte we decided to head over to Fontana Dam N.C. where I had one of my favorite times on the Appalachian Trail. There is a large shelter there, with a bathroom that not only has plumbing and electric, but hot water too!!! There is a pretty flat area for tenting, a nice bonfire spot and a beautiful view of the water. When I was on the trail and I got to this point I was still with a pretty large group of people.

IMG_0020.jpgI reminisced with Maria, showing her exactly where my tent was. I remembered exactly where Not Yet, Tree Ninja, Silver, Brightside, Sweetblood, Roadside and Banana Boat all camped. How Sweetblood found out about her scholarship to Cambridge only moments after we heard about a hiker well up the trail having been killed in his tent when a tree fell on it. I also remembered a big dinner provided by Fresh Grounds and him hanging out with us all and telling us stories from his years as one of the ultimate trail angels. It was a great night and it is a wonderful spot to visit if you ever get the chance.

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We got there at night and headed straight for the camp to make a bonfire, it was a bit of an effort due to all the wood being wet from all the rain but Maria managed to get a small fire going and we enjoyed a bottle of wine while sitting by the fire.  It was heaven.IMG_0040.JPG

The next day we headed in to the little town…last time I was here I got there the day before the town opened and this time the town was still closed as well. When the town is closed all it has is a gas station/bar, a little Laundromat and a small resort (whose restaurants are all closed) We took care of our laundry while doing more work on Houdini (mainly cleaning and reorganizing) and then we headed over to the resort to hang out for a bit.

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Maria was in love with the huge fireplace (it was a cold day after all), the free coffee and cocoa, and the free Wi-Fi that was for anyone to use. We hung out there for a while taking care of some online stuff (paying bills, checking email, etc.) and then headed out to a grocery store to get some food for dinner.

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Maria making a door knob out of a branch we found

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It was New Year’s Eve and keeping with Maria’s mom’s tradition, it’s good luck to have lentil soup on New Year’s Eve so Maria made some and then we had mashed potatoes and chili with some wine. We set up the awning with our lights (okay, yeah they’re Xmas lights but for a few bucks, why not?) and then we just hung out until 2016 decided to show its face.

 

IMG_0347.JPGMy 2016 was rung in on the Appalachian Trail, overlooking the water, in the early stages of this awesome trip in a beautiful and secluded location while drinking a glass of wine with Maria by my side. Could it get any better than that?

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The next morning we decided to go all out for breakfast by making hash browns, eggs, sausage, bacon and of course some vegetarian sausage for Maria.

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As we were finishing our breakfast a couple with their two kids came up to us asking about the rocket stove that Maria had made. We got to talking and the father, Mark, had done a similar trip back in the 70’s. His family had purchased an old mail truck and converted it into a camper and they had stayed in that while in the Everglades for about 3 months.

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We of course gave him, his wife Belle and his two adorable kids a tour of the van and asked them to sign it. The kids really seemed to enjoy the idea of signing the van and they seemed to love the van itself and want to live in it.

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When it was time for them to leave the two kids gave us huge hugs and were off and we packed our stuff and headed on our way as well. Next stop Chattanooga.

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